A drug-dispensing hydrogel implant can stop tumors from regrowing and metastasizing after surgery.
Surgery is often the best option for a cancer patient with a growing tumor, but, paradoxically, the inflammation that accompanies healing can suppress antitumor immune cells and promote the proliferation of cancerous cells. This can lead to metastasis, which is responsible for 90% of cancer deaths, according to a 2006 study in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer.
Immunotherapy — which prompts the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer cells — is a promising option for battling metastasis, but only a modest portion of cancer patients respond well to immunotherapy, says Michael Goldberg, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. Goldberg and his colleagues decided to think local. If they could deliver immunotherapy drugs directly to the surgery site, they might be able to promote an immune-stimulating, rather than immune-suppressing, environment right at the spot where new cancer cells tend to grow and start their spread.
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